Can you love enough to prepare for the end?

Preparing for the end of your life is not depressing or dismal, it is saying to those you care about that you understand how you much you mean to them and you are willing to go the extra mile to make it easier for them if you leave this life before them, it is respectful and honouring to those who love you most.

Just recently I said goodbye to someone who was not technically family, but was very much family in every other sense of the word.

His passing and the attendance at the funeral reminded me of why we should always try to remember that we will all end.  This man lived his life with compassion, fortitude and a crazy ability to see where others need help, then be the help.

His funeral was packed with hundreds of people, all of whom had stories about how he had touched their lives, all wanting to tell the stories.  Sometimes I think we lose sight of the importance of telling stories, especially the good ones.

We must all remember that there will be trials and grief on the part of those we leave behind, be kind to them and leave all your wishes behind.  Invest in a Will, and a Memorandum of Wishes, let your loved ones know that you cared enough to do this to save them the stress of not knowing all the things they are going to be asked after you go.

This person was “lucky” in that he could prepare and say goodbye before the known end, but we don’t always have this ability.  Leaving a living will will also help in times that you are unable to communicate for yourself, as will having appointed Enduring Powers of Attorney.

If you have any questions about these please contact us so we can help you with some of the issues and questions that will be helpful discussing before visiting a solicitor.

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Regulator, retirement office flatline in budget; NZ Super down $32 billion on model

Copied from: investmentnews new zealand

May 25, 2015

Both the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) and the Retirement Commissioner face zero-growth balance sheets for at least next year, according to Treasury budget details.

Despite taking on a greater workload due to the implementation of the Financial Markets Conduct Act (FMC), the government has funded the FMA for the 2015/16 fiscal year at the same level as the previous period: $26.184 million.

That amount is split as per the 2014/15 year with just over $12.5 million to cover “licensing and compliance monitoring”, almost $8 million allocated to corporate cop legwork, and, more than $5.6 million to pay for “market analysis and guidance, investor awareness, and regulatory engagement functions”.

The budget statement says the FMA “is rewriting their Statement of Intent and Statement of Performance Expectations to reflect increased responsibilities under the Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013”.

“Some of the performance information indicated for the appropriation may change during the year,” the budget paper says.

Similarly, the government will back the FMA’s litigation fund to last year’s tune of $2 million. The regulator’s legal fighting fund is designed to cover “costs and expenses arising from litigation between the FMA and another party involving external legal counsel and/or consultants and expert witnesses, with direct costs of at least $10,000 (GST excl), excluding FMA overheads”.

The FMA website lists 11 cases currently before the courts.

Meanwhile, the Retirement Commissioner (now housed under the Commission for Financial Capability – or CFFC – banner) has seen its 2015/16 budget trimmed back from a temporary high of just above $6 million in the previous year to $5.782 million.

“There was a one-off transfer of funding from Vote Science and Innovation to develop financial literacy pilot programmes targeted to Māori and Pacific people, which increased the appropriation only for 2014/15,” the budget paper says. “The appropriation reverts back to baselines for 2015/16 and out years [until at least 2018/19].”

According to its 2014 accounts, the CFFC spent almost $1.8 million of its budget on staff and about $1.5 million on “marketing and education”.

The budget papers also project the New Zealand Superannuation Fund (NZS) would accumulate almost $32 billion more by 2060 if government contributions recommence in the 2015/16 tax period rather than the planned 2021 period.

Under the “normal contribution logic” scenario, the government would tip in funds annually to NZS from 2015/16 until 2029 when withdrawals are scheduled to begin. Based on those contribution parameters and assuming baseline returns and tax, by 2060 the NZS would’ve accumulated about $512 billion.

However, if NZS contributions kick off again in 2021, as indicated by the government, the 2060 fund tally would equate to about $480 billion, the budget projection says.

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Cancer survivor designs the ’empathy cards’…

she wished she’d received when she was sick

Card - LemonsBelow is an article sent to me by Adam Grant in his latest newsletter, he wrote a fantastic book that really challenged me to look at the world around me in a different way, the book is called “Give and Take” if you are interested.  I personally have one friend who is currently terminally ill, and another who is doing her best to fight Lymphoma and to that end just had a stem cell transplant to try and help her body recover from the beating it has taken with chemo.  Tanya.

These are the cards Emily McDowell wished she’d received when she was battling Stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the age of 24.

Instead of trite sympathy cards, Emily has designed a range of ’empathy cards’ for people suffering from serious illnesses.

The LA-based designer explains on her website: ‘I created this collection of empathy cards for serious illness because I believe we need some better, more authentic ways to communicate about sickness and suffering.

She adds: ‘“Get well soon” cards don’t make sense when someone might not.’Card - one more chemo down

After her diagnosis, Emily endured nine months of chemo and radiation, before being told she was in remission.

She’s now 38 years old and says she’s ‘incredibly fortunate’ to have been cancer-free ever since.

She writes of her battle with the disease: The most difficult part of my illness wasn’t losing my hair, or being erroneously called “sir” by Starbucks baristas, or sickness from chemo.

‘It was the loneliness and isolation I felt when many of my close friends and family members disappeared because they didn’t know what to say, or said the absolute wrong thing without realizing it.’

She hopes her empathy cards will help people to find the words they’re searching for.

Card - I am on board withCheck out Emily’s range of cards, tote bags and mugs on her website here

 

 

 

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Income Protection: Bitter pill?

I don’t normally write about insurance, as I am not an expert.Coins gold

BUT, what I do know is that a person’s ability to earn a dollar is their biggest asset.

You are never too young to think about it either, I met a man whose girlfriend is in her 20’s facing cancer, the kind that has ability to create a huge loss.

You are can be too old, but not until you reach retirement, or a at point where you can support yourself even if you couldn’t work again.

Income Protection insurance is one of the ways that you can protect your biggest asset, and there are other ways that complement it, which will be explained by an insurance adviser when asked.

The biggest complaint I hear about income protection, and actually personal insurance in general is the cost.  Overseas i.e. not in New Zealand, there is a lot less protection for the individual provided by the Government, the USA is a good example of this, and they take for granted the need for personal insurance.  Here it is a different story, between ACC and WINZ we have a lot more cover than most countries.

If you value your way of life, the amount of disposable income you have, income protection is worth a look, it will be another cost to living, but what is worst, living without your income, or sacrificing a little in the meantime…

Finding a good insurance adviser can be a tough ask,  so here are some questions to ask:

  1. What sort of authority do you have to provide me with insurance?
  2. Can you provide me with options from more than one insurance provider?
  3. Are you going to give me balanced advice with options?
  4. How do you earn money from me and do you get paid year after year even if you don’t contact me for a review?
  5. Can I have your Disclosure Statement?

These are just a start, but a good adviser will let you know the answers to these and other questions when you meet, happily and willingly.  If you think you are not being listened to, try somewhere else. You need to be able to trust them, if you can’t the relationship won’t work.

If you want to check the details of the insurance/financial/investment adviser you can check them out on the Government website: www.fspr.govt.nz or check out the Financial Markets Authority website www.fma.govt.nz.

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Parity party an opportunity for reflection: NZ Initiative

Dr Oliver HartwichDr Oliver Hartwich | Executive Director | oliver.hartwich@nzinitiative.org.nz

The Reserve Bank of Australia’s surprise decision not to cut interest rates only postponed the expected “parity party” between the Kiwi and the Aussie dollars. The way things are going, it is a matter of time until both currencies are of equal value.

The currency development leaves politicians and commentators divided. On Wednesday, The New Zealand Herald was jubilant (“Transtasman parity worth a celebration”) whereas the Waikato Times played the party-pooper (“Dollar parity bad news”).

Unsurprisingly, Prime Minister John Key claimed the strong Kiwi as an indication of a strong economy while his counterpart, Labour leader Andrew Little warned of negative side effects of our strong dollar.

With so much disagreement on the interpretation of a rather technical event, who is right in their assessment of the parity party?

The truth is that they are all right in their own ways. At once, the strong Kiwi is a blessing and a curse, a development to celebrate and to be concerned about. It entirely depends on your perspective.

Obviously, for importers of Australian goods as for New Zealanders holidaying in Australia, parity makes life cheaper. Conversely, exporters trading with Australia will experience business conditions get tougher. That is the very nature of exchange rate movements. They always create winners and losers, parity or not.

So it is futile to discuss parity under the heading of whether it is good or bad for individual people or businesses. It always depends on their individual circumstances.

What makes much more sense to reflect upon is what parity with the Australian dollar says about New Zealand – and what it does about Australia.

It is a tale of two different countries. And it is a tale of a major role reversal.

Until just a couple of years ago, New Zealand was worried about a large migration loss to Australia. The grass seemed greener on the other side of the ditch, and many Kiwis were lured by better economic prospects in Australia.

What has happened since then is the end of Australia’s mining boom, coupled with political mismanagement in Canberra. That is one side of the equation.

On the other hand, New Zealand was fortunate to see a surge in demand for its exports. Plus, we have benefited from sound political management which brought us the free trade agreement with China (thanks to the previous Labour government) and a focus on fiscal prudence (thanks to the current National government).

Perhaps parity with the Aussie dollar should be an opportunity to reflect on how fortunate New Zealand has been with its political leadership (certainly compared to Australia). And it should also be a reminder that no good economic run should ever be taken for granted. Just ask the Australians.

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Celebrate Life: Happy Easter: Be Safe

Gilchrist childrenAt this time, when most are taking a long weekend off, please remember to be safe on the roads and wherever you are travelling, let us all celebrate those closest and dearest to us and take this time to celebrate life, together.

For those of us in the Bay of Plenty we are having a horror year on our roads, and with the wet weather set to continue please be careful, be patient. This was driven home by a letter from the Police to all those involved at my children’s school, they are interested in our safety so they are going to patrol our horror SH 2 more than ever.

You may think this a strange message from financial advisers, but that is just it, we are interested in you, you staying alive long enough to enjoy your hard earned savings, we want your family to be together, not arranging a funeral.

For the sake of your family, be careful out there.

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Socially Responsible Investment and NZ Managed Funds

fund-source-logo30 Mar 2015 15:23

As KiwiSaver account balances grow and New Zealand investors become increasingly interested in where their savings are invested, more interest may be shown in socially responsible investment (SRI). A number of New Zealand fund managers offer SRI options. This article will look at the basic terminology used and the different kinds of options available to investors.

SRI is an investment process that considers environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors. This means that rather than simply looking at the potential return of an asset, an investor will take into account the effect their investment will have on the environment and society and whether the corporate governance of the company also considers these factors. Fund managers are able to show their engagement with ESG issues by signing the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment. The six principles represent a voluntary commitment to take ESG factors into account during the investment process. A number of New Zealand fund managers are signatories to the principles including Devon Funds Management, Harbour Asset Management and Salt Funds Management.

A common way to invest responsibly in practice is to exclude certain industries entirely. These industries, often referred to as ‘sin stocks’, include alcohol, tobacco, pornography, gambling and armaments. A number of New Zealand managers that offer SRI funds try to exclude certain industries from these particular portfolios. For example, specific SRI funds are offered by AMP Capital, Grosvenor Investment Management, Pathfinder Asset Management and Quaystreet Asset Management. As investor appetites change, so do the industries that are considered ‘sinful’. For instance, Grosvenor and Hunter Hall (an Australian fund manager) have both recently removed direct exposure to fossil fuels in their SRI funds.

The different ways in which managers can take ESG factors into account means that definitions necessarily differ from manager to manager. At one end of the spectrum is ‘deep green’ investing. Rather than simply excluding industries that are perceived as having negative social and environmental impacts, deep green investing means actively seeking out investments that can have a decidedly positive impact. Although Hunter Hall offers a deep green fund, this investment style is relatively absent from New Zealand. Grosvenor attributes this to “hypocritical discomfort” where investors do not want to acknowledge the ways they ignore ESG factors as consumers.

Finally, there is discussion around the extent that socially responsible investing affects investment returns. Some analysts argue that limiting the investable universe of a fund can decrease fund returns and increase volatility. Others claim that actively managed SRI portfolios can offer strong returns.

There are a number of SRI options available to New Zealand investors. These include KiwiSaver funds and non-KiwiSaver unit trusts. For more information about the SRI exposure of your portfolio, talk to an Authorised Financial Adviser.

– See more at: FundSource

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